Hamas leader suggests openness to two-state solution

NEW YORK (JTA) — Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said his group is open to a 10-year truce with Israel and a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

In an interview in Damascus with The New York Times, Meshaal also said Hamas fighters in Gaza have halted their rocket fire into Israel for now.

It wasn’t clear from the report in the Times, which first appeared Monday on the newspaper’s Web site, whether or not Meshaal meant Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that controls Gaza, is willing to accept a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 Six Day War borders as a permanent settlement, or whether Hamas would abide by such an arrangement only for the duration of a “long-term truce,” which he describes as 10 years.

The story says: “On the two-state solution sought by the Americans, [Meshaal] said: ‘We are with a state on the 1967 borders, based on a long-term truce. This includes East Jerusalem, the dismantling of settlements and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.’ Asked what ‘long-term’ meant, he said 10 years.”

In the interview, Meshaal also said, “I promise the American administration and the international community that we will be part of the solution, period.”

Meshaal reiterated that Hamas would not recognize Israel, calling it an enemy, and he did not offer to revoke Hamas’ charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction and cites “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as fact. However, Meshaal urged outsiders to ignore the charter, noting that it is 20 years old.

The Hamas leader, who was the subject of an Israeli assassination attempt in 1997 by Israeli agents operating under the orders of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called President Obama’s language on the Middle East “different and positive.”

Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel was significantly down in April compared with the previous three months. In January, Israel carried out a major bombing campaign in Gaza to curtail the rocket fire that left approximately 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

“Not firing the rockets currently is part of an evaluation from the movement which serves the Palestinians’ interest,” Meshaal told the Times. “After all, the firing is a method, not a goal. Resistance is a legitimate right, but practicing such a right comes under an evaluation by the movement’s leaders.”

Meshaal also said Hamas wanted a cease-fire with Israel and a deal that would free captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for numerous Palestinian prisoners.

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